Ka Lae – Naalehu, Hawaii - Atlas Obscura

Ka Lae

The southernmost point in the United States is a beautiful place to look at but a deadly place to wade in. 


The southernmost point in the United States, Ka Lae boasts great fishing and a wide ocean view. But would-be swimmers should heed the warnings and stay on the land here.

At the end of South Point Road near Nā’ālehu, Hawai’i, Ka Lae (Hawaiian for “the point”) is the southernmost tip of the Big Island. Multiple currents converge at the point, Over many millenia, the ocean waves have undercut the coastal cliff, developing weak spots that let fishermen excavate holes to descend to boats below. Fishermen also sit at the cliff’s edge to catch red snapper and ulua, among other fishes.

The inviting water, though, hides a swift current at the point, called the Halaea Current. This current will drag swimmers out to sea and likely to their death. The current is named after a Hawaiian chief who learned that lesson firsthand and too late.

Know Before You Go

From Route 11 between Hawaiian Ocean View and Nā'ālehu, turn south on South Point Road. Follow it and the signs for Ka Lae / South Point 12 miles to the parking lot.

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